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Jun 6, 2024 6:23 pm

Improved Storm to face significant test vs. Aces

A'ja Wilson shoots

It will be an early showdown in the WNBA’s Western Conference on Friday night in Las Vegas.

The Seattle Storm have been one of the league’s hottest teams and face the Las Vegas Aces, who have set the standard on what a top team looks like.

The Aces (5-2) have won three of their last four games after Wednesday night’s 95-81 road victory against the Dallas Wings, with A’ja Wilson’s season-high 36 points leading the way.

That performance, which also included 12 rebounds and six steals, came a day after she was named Western Conference Player of the Week. Wilson became the first player in WNBA history with 35 or more points, 10 or more rebounds and five or more steals in a game.

“I try to put myself in situations that make it a little easier for my teammates,” Wilson said. “I love the flow of the game that we’re playing, the pace that we have.”

The Storm (6-3) have rattled off five consecutive victories, most recently topping visiting Phoenix 80-62 on Tuesday night. Center Ezi Magbegor had 21 points and nine rebounds.

It has been a big week on and off the court for Magbegor, who also signed a contract extension Tuesday.

“I think it’s well-deserved,” Storm coach Noelle Quinn said, pointing out Magbegor’s commitment and maturity. “Her agility and aggressiveness jump starts what we do on offense.”

Magbegor, 24, is a two-time All-WNBA defensive team selection.

“Seattle is where I want to be,” Magbegor said. “It has been my home away from home for the last five years, and I love what we are building as a group.”

The Aces played their past three games on the road, going 2-1 in those contests.

Las Vegas is getting boosts off the bench from Kate Martin, a rookie guard from Iowa, who is scoring 4.3 points per game with 3.3 rebounds and 1.7 assists.

“She’s going to do all those little things that actually really complements our big-time scorers,” Aces coach Becky Hammon said. “Now sometimes she ends up as the benefactor.”

The team’s point production against Dallas marked its second-highest of the season.

The Storm could have second-leading scorer Nneka Ogwumike, who averages 18.7 points and 7.3 rebounds, back in action. She missed Tuesday night’s game after she was poked in the eye during practice a day earlier.

“With no Nneka, we saw people stepping up and stepping into different roles,” Storm guard Skylar Duggins-Smith said.

Even with the winning streak, the Storm can see areas that could use improvement.

“We can do better with finishing quarters,” Duggins-Smith said.

This will be the first of the Storm’s two trips to Las Vegas across a span of less than two weeks.

–Field Level Media

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